History of Lesser Town

Mala Strana is the most romantic of Prague's quarters. Narrow cobblestone streets, baroque churches, green parks of luxurious palaces, and red tile roofs.

Photo of St. Nikolas Church and red tile roofs of the Lesser Town

A settlement appeared on the left bank of Vltava river not long after the Prague Castle had been founded. There were two fortresses nearby: the residence of the Knights of Malta and the Bishop's Court. The second disappeared among the later buildings without any trace. But what remains of the first, although in a later Gothic appearance, can still be seen on Maltese Square (Maltézské náměstí) - the Church of Our Lady beneath the Chain.

In 1257 Premysl Otakar II founded a royal town on the site of an old settlement. It got the name New Town under the Prague Castle. The name was quite long, and later it was changed to the Lesser Town. By order of the king, the walls surrounded the town. And the market became a center of local life. Today we know this place as Malostranska Square.

The Lesser Town was almost destroyed during the Hussite wars. And before the town took time to recover from this, a new misfortune came. In 1541, a fire broke out on the Malostranska Square. As a result, two-thirds of the houses burned down, as well as part of Hradcany and Prague Castle.

View at the Lesser Town from Petrin Hill, Prague

Today we see the town as it became in the 17th and 18th centuries when Baroque came to Prague. Churches, palaces, and houses changed under the baroque decorations. The church of St. Nicholas became a real pearl of this style.

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